I understand now why so many cyclists are being killed. Cycling like you are in the Netherlands or Copenhagen will get you killed in other countries.
There are some false beliefs out there. One is that infrastructure requires mandatory use laws, the other is that the lack of bicycle specific infrastructure means you just ride willy nilly all over the road.
- Netherlands cycle tracks are, for as near as I can tell, complete and connected. Like any highway, they go exactly where the user wants or needs to go.
- This is not true for the UK and US.
- If you don’t have complete cycle tracks and those cycle tracks do not meet your needs, you ride on the public highway.
- When you ride on the public highway you operate according to the rules of the road.
- You do not filter on the passenger side of a vehicle. Unless you have a death wish or are uneducated in cycling safety.
- You filter forward using the rules of the road and yield to oncoming traffic on a two way street.
- The main reasons people are opposed to bicycle specific infra are:
- The Netherlands set a bad example by legally mandating the use of their bike paths. Even in the Netherlands, if you are being honest when you bring them up, they do not have perfect infra everywhere you go. They still have door zone bike lanes. I sometimes find them in videos of locals who post their cycling trips but there aren’t any video’s of the Netherlanders specifically railing against them. Here is a blog on the subject for the Netherlands: On road cycle lanes: The good, the bad, and the ugly.
- The reason this is often not considered an issue is because the Netherlands also have strict liability laws. So if a driver injures a cyclist by throwing the door open without looking, the cyclist (should they survive the experience) can rest assured that the police and public media are not going to further victimize them by questioning their right to be there. No one will ask if they were wearing a helmet (as though that could really protect you from having your head run over by 2 tons of machine). No one will question the color of your clothes. The cyclists in the Netherlands have the homefield advantage, even in the face of crappy infra. Their medical bills are promptly paid and they get to go on with life as usual.
Bike specific infra (in the UK and US) is often a painted line on the ground. More often this painted line on the ground places the cyclist out of the driver’s field of vision. With a very narrow margin of passing clearance. In many ways it’s like we forget that often touted slogan of “3 feet minimum” to pass. Our engineers do not take safe passing into account when painting bike lanes. The faster the traffic the wider the bike lane should be.
- We often overestimate a driver’s area of vision as extending from the front side windows forward. The average driver does not drive with a 90 degree arc of vision. The average driver drives distracted. This is often compounded with age and limited physical mobility which makes it difficult to turn the head and look to the left and right as well as over the shoulder.
- To avoid a drivers blind spots always put yourself directly in front of the driver when operating your bicycle. The Dutch/Netherlands started (as near as I can tell) this idea of hugging the curb. Which is easier to do if you are operating at a snails pace.
- So if you are riding like the Dutch/Netherlands (think hugging the edge or weaving haphazardly in and out of traffic, also those box style turns where you cross like a pedestrian, honorable mention to filtering forward to the front of the line), if you ride like this, on public highways, you are riding with a death wish.
- The Netherlands have taken into consideration that motor traffic occupies a great deal of space and they have adjusted their light signals to accommodate cyclists at intersections. Which as you can see from the video, still needs a lot of tweaking. It’s o.k. to let loose on all sides for cyclists but not for cars? Come on! Where is the fairness in that? 😉
I’ve watched several videos of average people in the Netherlands, they are catching the film my ride fever too, cycling in the Netherlands, Copenhagen, and the Dutch. They do all of these things. (See this video for a full understanding of what I’m talking about:
I’ve also had the opportunity to read their laws and it is expressly illegal to haul passengers on bike racks. You will see a lot of law breaking in the video’s promoting cycling in the Netherlands.
If the Netherlands did away with the mandatory use laws this would solve the problem of faster cyclists running over pedestrians and slower cyclists. (This is a hot button topic in the Netherlands.)
Remember the Netherlands also have fast club rides. I feel very strongly that those cyclists do not belong on bike paths with slower moving traffic.
There will be the usual stupid comment: “Oh you just want children to cycle on heavily trafficked fast moving roads!”
No, I don’t. What I want is for there to be no heavily trafficked fast moving roads. Any roads that are used to swiftly move people from town to town should be limited access and built to those standards. All other roads should be built to accommodate all other road users regardless of vehicle type. All roads should be safe for foot traffic above and beyond anyone else’s needs.
When we build communities that are based on people walking, then we will have a community that is safe for cyclists of all ages.
I, as a responsible parent, taught my children how to cycle safely on the only road that took us to our destination.
I’m not the only parent out there who understands where the real risks are to riding in traffic. This is an old article but it clearly shows where the stinkin’ thinkin’ comes from and if you yourself don’t know, allow me to state it plainly.
UK father commutes kids to school by bicycle. Stopped by police.
1. Cyclists obey the rules of the road. Overtaking through intersections on the passenger side is illegal because it is dangerous. You wouldn’t do it in a car, don’t do it on a bicycle.
2. Motorists obey the rules of the road. Treat cyclists just like you would any other vehicle out there on the road. Change lanes to pass and yield right of way when legally required. Do not create confusion by yielding right of way when not legally required to do so.
For both Cyclists and Drivers, use sound judgement and know your transportation codes and laws before heading out. Always leave at least 10min early. You will never be late and find that your commute is much more relaxing when you don’t feel pressed for time.